The Energy Systems Research Group at the University of Cape Town combines modelling of energy and economic systems with policy analysis and field-based research, to generate and enhance knowledge of energy systems at sectoral, regional, national and sub-continental scales, focused on South Africa and the SADC region.

Such large systems are known to behave counter-intuitively, and modelling helps to study the interaction of multiple components under changing conditions over longer time periods, providing intelligence needed for policy regulation and on optimal capital investment into costly infrastructure.

In SATIM, the group holds the only full energy sector model for South Africa, combining electricity and liquid fuels sectors on the supply side with industrial, transportation and residential users on the demand side. A dynamic linking of this energy systems model with a macroeconomic general equilibrium model allows for economic analysis of energy-system decisions and ensures that inputs to SATIM are based in economic forecasts rather than arbitrarily specified. Specialists cover the main industrial sub-sectors, transport, residential, power generation, coal-mining and renewables. In addition, the group has expertise in modelling on a number of other open-source energy systems platforms.

The group in its current format evolved out of the 2019 restructuring of UCT’s Energy Research Centre and holds a combined experience of over 70 person-years.